What attracted you to become a therapist?
I worked with some counsellors in the late nineties and early noughties in what was a forerunner for the old NHS direct line, and got talking to them about their role. It really sounded like something I would like to do and would enjoy, so I vowed to do an initial skills course when time and finance allowed.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Wealden Institute in East Sussex and also at the Iron Mill College in Exeter.
I’ve done various courses for continuing personal development including advancing my knowledge of High Sensitivity, which has become my specialisation, at the National Centre for High Sensitivity in Andover. The National Centre is connected to Elaine Aron, who has been researching HSP since 1991.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I am an integrative humanistic therapist, which allows me to call upon a range of modalities as I see fit. Occasionally, if appropriate, I might even share some theory with a client and transactional analysis (TA) lends itself well to this.
I remember attending an open day for a psychodynamic course and deciding it really wasn’t for me and going home and doing some more research and coming to the conclusion that on an integrative course was where my interest lay. In the last few years I have been focusing part of my professional development on High Sensitivity. I also found that even if not that well known in the UK, the HSP trait awareness is getting stronger which has become apparent via the number of clients approaching me both for counselling or mentoring.
Since I became more specialised in High Sensitivity, I can see that my approach is helping people to deal better with the outside world together with nurturing via self-care towards a more deeper and richer inner self.
What sort of people do you usually see?
I see individual clients from early twenties to their sixties, though most are professionals in their thirties and forties. The most common aspects clients bring include: low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, addictions, and great desire to improve their quality of life through counselling sessions.
What do you like about being a therapist?
To quote a term used in Barrie Jaeger’s Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person, I’d say it is my Calling. There’s a buzz when a client makes some progress, takes a difficult decision or makes a change that is tough for them; seeing a client raise their self-esteem is hard to quantify. As a counsellor I can see that the whole being of my clients can also benefit not only their life, but also the whole sphere of their journey.
What is less pleasant?
The government and society in general maybe don’t take mental health seriously enough, meaning there are too many that perhaps don’t access the services they need. For my part I’m happy to discuss my fees for those on a low income. Maybe, being optimistic, one day the whole system will open the gates to a more holistic and wellbeing approach regardless of economic or educational background.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I’ve only recently hooked up with welldoing.org; thus far I like the website from the point of view of a therapist and due to the layout imagine it works well for clients too. And there are interesting articles to read in your weekly newsletter, to nurture and inspire my own research and knowledge.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
Most definitely, if I think it will be beneficial; for a gentle introduction to TA, Robert de Board’s Counselling for Toads is a great read, and often turns up in second-hand bookshops; Matthew Johnstone’s books including Quiet the Mind and I had a Black Dog; Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person is a frequent recommendation; and the forest bathing text, Shinrin-Yoku by Dr. Qing Li.
What you do for your own mental health?
I find yoga keeps me centred; cycling along the local canal in Gloucestershire allows me time to think; as does a trip to a local wood or common. Before that it was (and still is) the water (by the sea when possible). Exposure to nature is paramount.
You are a therapist in London N1 and EC2, and Stroud, Gloucestershire. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
Most of the clients that approach me are happy to see me in London and / or online. Some come from abroad so and are happy with digital interaction while others prefer to meet me in person. It’s very personal and also depends on why they are coming and if on-line therapy is appropriate. I think my specialisation in HSP is the one that is ‘creating’ my demographic, overall.
What’s your consultation room like?
I like the calming, neutral décor in my room in N1, the light airy room with fresh flowers in EC2. My consultation room in Stroud is more Spartan but practical and ideally located right in the centre, close to bus routes, rail station and car parks. When on working on-line, I use a calm room at home, with no personal touches and white calm neat walls. I need to feel comfortable myself to ‘pass’ the feeling to my on-line clients. In some ways, the environment where I practise online is even more important.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Well most, but not all, clients know what counselling is and isn’t; occasionally I need to explain that I’m not going to tell them what to do or make a decision for them. My HSP clients seem to know a lot more about this trait and have done some research before approaching me.
I wonder how much going to see a counsellor is seen as a ‘bad’ thing. It is great support for any person’s life. We all need support (one way or another) at some stage and getting that help can enrich your life. You can benefit from it and resolve issues that maybe were too ‘big’ to face on your own. Thanks to new magazines, more websites, portals, I do believe counselling is now more acceptable even if mental health overall has some way to go.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
When I first went to therapy as a student counsellor, I wondered if I’d have enough to say to fill 60 minutes; then I quickly realised there’s always something you can learn about yourself. You are on a journey of discovery where you might travel along making progress, yet never get to the terminus. Clients teach me something everyday and in a different way I Iearn through supervision.